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Art and Words

 

I wish I hadn't made some of the coral so dark.

I wish I hadn’t made some of the coral so dark.

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.” – Scott Adams

 Life Lessons

One of the most freeing pieces of advice I ever received was the one given to me by a Weber State University art professor.

Quick sketch of a barn

Quick sketch of a barn

“Give yourself permission to paint a bad picture,” he said, then gave us the assignment to do just that.

I absolutely hated the “bad” painting I did for the assignment. But when the professor posted all of the students’ “bad paintings” on the wall, he pointed out what he liked in each of them.  I was dumbfounded at what he liked in mine, but in reconsidering I did see a few elements of saving grace in my ugly picture.

While I never did come to like that painting, I did learn from the exercise. From that time foreword, I’ve given myself permission to paint a bad picture every time I have a blank piece of paper or canvas in front of me. It frees me enough that I can actually paint without having to worry about messing up. That’s good because I always do.

I can honestly say I’ve never painted a piece that I felt was perfect — and probably never will. It’s the same with my writing. I can always see ways, after a piece is published, where I could have made the words sing more vibrantly, or whisper more gracefully.

Perfection simply isn’t within me. But that’s OK. It’s the imperfections that make me who I am – and unique.           

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Leanne Cole Photography http://tinyurl.com/ohj4k9t Abbotsford Convent, a delightful blog for the armchair traveler.

 

Theodore Roosevelt Lake

“The sound of colors is so definite that it would be hard to find anyone who would express bright yellow with bass notes, or dark lake with the treble.” – Wassily Kandinsky

We watched what looked like was going to be a dud of a sunset. Even when the sun slipped below the horizon, the sky barely glowed yellow. And then suddenly, as if someone finally remembered to turn on the painted gels, the sunset sky exceeded even our expectations. -- Photo by Pat Bean

We watched what looked like was going to be a dud of a sunset. Even when the sun slipped below the horizon, the sky barely glowed yellow. And then suddenly, as if someone finally remembered to turn on the painted gels, the sunset sky exceeded even our expectations. — Photo by Pat Bean

            “I’m an old-fashioned guy … I want to be an old man with a beer belly sitting on a porch, looking at a lake or something.” – Johnny Depp

Point of Interest

            I consider my trip last week – in which my friend Jean and I and our two loveable dogs, Pepper and Dusty, camped overnight beside Theodore Roosevelt Lake — as part of my current lifestyle as a non-wandering wanderer.

Roosevelt Lake Bridge is the longest two-lane, single span, steel arch bridge in North America.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

Roosevelt Lake Bridge is the longest two-lane, single span, steel arch bridge in North America. — Photo by Pat Bean

I intend not to be one of those people I met during my travels who never saw the landscape marvels or points of interest in their own backyards.

And since Roosevelt Lake is only a leisurely three-hour, scenic drive from Tucson, I figured it close enough to at least be situated in the South 40 of my rented estate.

The western sky about 10 minutes before it burst into color.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

The western sky about 10 minutes before it burst into color. — Photo by Pat Bean

The lake, located north of Globe alongside Highway 188, was created when the Theodore Roosevelt Dam was erected on the Salt River in 1911.

With a length of 22 miles, a maximum width of two miles, and a maximum depth of almost 350 feet, the lake is Arizona’s largest. That is if you don’t count Lake Mead which sits partially in Nevada and Lake Powell which sits partially in Utah.

One of the best parts of spending the night at a campground is the opportunity to watch the sun go down, and then to sit around a campfire. Somehow tales are taller, and the world’s problems more solvable when you’re dodging smoke by continually moving your lawn chair a bit to the right or left.

Better yet, when the wind’s blowing the smoke away from you, as it was surprisingly doing for us this night as we sat around the fire with the dogs at our feet.

Sometimes life is just damn good.

Jean and I, and I suspect Pepper and Dusty, too, are already looking forward to our next campout. I hope it’s soon.

Bean Pat: A Mixed Bag http://tinyurl.com/padl2g3 When you find yourself in a hole.

 

Road Trip

     “Travel is like a giant blank canvas, and the painting on the canvas is only limited by one’s imagination.” — Ross Morley

Gypsy Lee at sunrise at Cholla Campground in the Tonto Basin about 35 miles north of Globe, Arizona.

Gypsy Lee at sunrise at Cholla Campground in the Tonto Basin, with Roosevelt Lake in the background, about 35 miles north of Globe, Arizona. — Photo by Pat Bean

Tonto Basin and Roosevelt Lake

            “Let’s take Gypsy Lee, Dusty and Pepper and go to Eisenhower Lake,” said my friend Jean, whose dog, Dusty, I pet sit during the week while she’s at work. Gypsy Lee is the small RV I lived in for almost nine years while traveling this country full-time, and Pepper, of course, is my own spoiled dog.

My three traveling companions. -- Photo by Pat Bean

My three traveling companions. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Where’s Eisenhower Lake?” I asked between sips of Jack and Coke during a Friday happy hour, when we were sitting out on my bedroom balcony watching the sun go down.

“You know. Up by Globe (Arizona).”

“In the Tonto Basin?”

“Is that by Globe?” She asked.

“Yes. And I’ve been there. It’s a beautiful area and lake. Let me show you the photos I took of the area some years back.” And I did, and she responded with just the right amount of oohs and aahs.

Those of you who are familiar with the Tonto Basin area are probably by now exclaiming: “What in the Sam Hill are those two old broads talking about? There’s no Eisenhower Lake in Arizona.” While others might be thinking: “Are they stupid? The only Eisenhower Lake I know about is in Rhode Island.”

Of course we soon discovered that the lake near Globe is named Roosevelt. We just got our presidents mixed up.  But just as a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, so Roosevelt Lake would be just as awesome.           

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Choosing gratitude and joy.  http://tinyurl.com/k68qur5  Good advice for all those who find themselves stuck on the road. There are a lot worse situations in life in which you can find yourself.

Monday Art

            “I do not know which to prefer. The beauty of inflections. Or the beauty of innuendoes. The Blackbird whistling. Or just after.” – Wallace Stevens

Monday art by Pat Bean

Monday art by Pat Bean

And a Few Birdy Quotes

            “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.” – Maya  Angelou

            “Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” – Henry Van Dyke

     “Birds are indicators of the environment. If they are in trouble, we know we’ll soon be in trouble.” Roger Tory Peterson

            “When birds burp, it must taste like bugs.” – Bill Watterson

            “Yes sir, I am a tortured man for all seasons, as they say, and I have powerful friends in high places. Birds sing where I walk, and children smile when they see me coming.” Hunter S. Thompson

            “Did St. Francis preach to the birds? Whatever for? If he really liked birds he would have done better to preach to the cats.” Rebecca West      

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: The Day After http://tinyurl.com/ltfx4wl What is a friend?

Rattlesnake Bridge

“We build too many walls and not enough bridges.” – Isaac Newton

First came the tail. Is that like walking up the down staircase? -- Photo by Pat Bean

First came the tail. Is that like walking up the down staircase? — Photo by Pat Bean

Hometown Point of Interest

When I’m traveling, I research the cities I will pass through along the way. I find this type of advance preparation both fun and educational, especially since  Internet sites like Wikipedia, Trip Advisor and Roadside America, make it an easy task.

Pepper staring down at the traffic passing below as we travel through the snake's belly. -- Photo  by Pat Bean

Pepper staring down at the traffic passing below as we travel through the snake’s belly. — Photo by Pat Bean

I’ve also found many sight-seeing ideas by using simple key words, like  “Things to do” in Lake Jackson, Texas (the Sea Center), or Camden, Arkansas (Poison Spring State Park), or Hot Springs, South Dakota (The Mammoth Site). Well you get the idea.

So why not apply this same philosophy to my current non-wandering lifestyle, I asked myself? So I did. And I discovered over a hundred (I don’t exaggerate) places of interest within a few miles of my Mount Lemmon foothills’ apartment.

One of these was Rattlesnake Bridge, which Pepper and I took a walk across yesterday morning. I learned of its existence on Roadside America’s web site.

We entered the 280 foot long bridge through its tail, where motion sensors set off an eerie rattling sound that had Pepper looking for the source.

The unique bridge crossed six lanes of traffic on Broadway Boulevard before the snake  spit us out through its head, which sits near a small landscaped park and walking trail. Pepper and I followed the trail for a while before backtracking to Cayenne, our ruby-red vehicle.

The snake's head, which we entered to retrace out steps back to the tail. == Photo by Pat Bean

The snake’s head, which we entered to retrace out steps back to the tail. == Photo by Pat Bean

According to Roadside America, the concept for the bridge came from Tucson artist Simon Donovan in 1997. The bridge was then completed in 2002, using public art funding.

Pepper and I had the bridge to ourselves when we walked across it at about 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning. It was a delightful way to start our day.

Bean Pat: Travels and Trifles http://tinyurl.com/mqmwtad Dreamy!

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Fresh Eyes

             “The greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time.” – Bill Bryson

Some days I look out from my bedroom window and see a Cooper's hawk or a great horned owl sitting on a branch in a nearby tree. Or I look down and see a black cat peering up at me from an apartment across the way. Each viewing in a first for the moment.

Some days I look out from my bedroom window and see a Cooper’s hawk or a great horned owl sitting on a branch in a nearby tree. Or I look down and see a black cat peering up at me from an apartment across the way. Each viewing in a first for the moment.

Seeing Things in a Different Light When I travel, I look at things differently. I think it’s because I expect to see something new that I’ve never seen before. The world always seems more interesting when I’m on the road.

Sunlight streams into my apartment on only a few winter days. But each day it flows in, the patterns are slightly different in the view I have from my kitchen. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Sunlight streams into my apartment on only a few winter days. But each day it flows in, the patterns are slightly different in the view I have from my kitchen. — Photo by Pat Bean

I’m coming to realize, however, that travel is not a requirement for this to happen. Do the Catalina Mountains, which  currently provide the backdrop to my days, look different to a traveler seeing them for the first time? Would the crisp white blossoms of a saguaro cactus spell-mind the eyes of a traveler more impressively than they do my own eyes that have now been among them for two seasons? While travelers may only see the mountain range on a sunny day, or a misty day, or a rainy day, the joy of first sight can’t help but pump the adrenalin through the veins of any nature enthusiast. I envy those who are seeing these mountains for the first time, as I recall my first view of the Catalinas. . But now I’ve now been blessed to see this mountain range in its many moods.  I’ve watched the rocky mammoths as the morning sun crowned its peaks in a golden light, I’ve seen it as the evening sun has turned its rocky cliffs a glimmering rose hue, and I’ve seen it frosted with the sugary granules of snow. I’ve watched as globules of bright green atop a saguaro plant have opened into a disk of white petals with a pale ochre center. A traveler passing through the saguaro’s Arizona home in March might only see an awesome, statuesque cactus with arms stretching skyward, and might not know that such a beauty is likely to be 100 years old, or that it wears a headdress of white blooms in late May and early June. There are as many advantages to watching the passing landscape while rooted as there are in catching glimpses of Mother Nature’s wonders on the fly. One only has to retain that sense of awe so easily achieved at first sight. I suspect that in this late-blooming season of my life, there are still roads out there I will travel.  But in the meantime, I plan to follow Bill Bryson’s advice and try to look at the world around me be as if for the first time. I don’t think I will be disappointed.           

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Monica Devine http://tinyurl.com/ot8bqdb This blogger has an eye for seeing things in a new and exciting

           “I am a wanderer passionately in love with life.” — Aleksandr Kuprin … Me, too.

Even gray days are colorful on a fall day traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Appalachian Mountains. -- Photo b Pat Bean

Even gray days are colorful on a fall day traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Appalachian Mountains. — Photo b Pat Bean

Rainy Fall Mornings

I woke up to a gentle rain this morning, with the hazy light of a gray sunrise streaming in through the slats of the shutters on my bedroom window. At night the narrow, rectangular blank spaces of this wooden curtain cast a pattern of light and shadow on the ceiling above my head.

Virginia creeper alongside the parkway. I do so love the color red -- Photo by Pat Bean

Virginia creeper alongside the parkway. I do so love the color red — Photo by Pat Bean

I often lie away and study this artful illumination, letting my mind drift into fantasy worlds. I don’t like sleeping in the dark, so I never close the shutters, preferring to let the  pale light that flows into my bedroom comfort me.

The first thing I do on awakening this morning is to go out on my balcony and stare at the mountains to the north of my third floor apartment. They are one of the reasons I have stayed put now for nearly two years.

These tall peaks that stretch nearly 10,000 feet up to the sky bring peace to my nest of bright new furniture and growing stacks of  books. I tried to take a photo of this morning’s misty mountain scene, but my camera battery was dead – and by the time I charged it, the mountains had been eaten by the mist, a sure sign it’s going to be a full gray day.

But that’s OK. I love gray days. They turn the mind inward and slow down the chaos of the world.

On this day two years ago, it was also raining. I was in Front Royal, Virginia, waiting at an almost deserted RV park for the rain to stop before I headed south on Skyline Trail through Shenandoah National Park and down the Blue Ridge Parkway through the Appalachian Mountains.

What a grand adventure that autumn was. But then this fall is charming, too. While my body may remain rooted to one place these days, my mind still travels the road. And autumn is a great time to travel wherever you are.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Things I love http://tinyurl.com/pcqvnhk One of my favorite bloggers captures nature at her artful best.

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